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Hyperion Records

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Portrait of Adrian Willaert by An unknown artist (18th century)
Museo internazionale e biblioteca della musica di Bologna
Track(s) taken from CDA67749
Recording details: June 2009
Wallfahrtskirche, St Wolfgang bei Weitra, Austria
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Markus Wallner
Release date: June 2010
Total duration: 34 minutes 58 seconds

'A dissonant motet on drunkenness and a hymn to the Holy Shroud … are among the treasures here, sung by the accomplished ensemble Cinquecento … a stimulating disc' (The Observer)

'A disc which combines one of the finest vocal ensembles in Europe currently at the height of its power with the richly scored and constantly inventive music of Adrian Willaert promises to be a revelation … the singing throughout is superbly blended, nuanced, tuned and expressive' (Early Music Review)

'A beautifully conceived and immaculately realised sequence, sung with simple directness by the six male voices of Cinquecento' (The Guardian)

'The magnificent Missa Mente tota … a tour de force … the fluidity and flexibilty of Cinquecento's sound means that every melodic line of the work is audible … their placement of chords, too, is absolutely precise, but the precision and suavity never come at the cost of passion—these singers know how to make abstruse polyphony sound genuinely exciting … this is a very fine disc indeed; I suspect that if Willaert could hear it he might think that he'd found his ideal performers' (International Record Review)

Missa Mente tota
6vv; after Josquin's Mente tota, part of the cycle Vultum tuum; the earliest source for the Mass is Vatican City, Cappella Sistina 16, circa 1512/7
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Willaert’s six-voice Missa Mente tota is based on the quinta pars of the composer’s monumental cycle Vultum tuum deprecabuntur. Josquin wrote these motets during his period of activity in Milan in the 1480s. They can be linked with devotional practices of the Sforza rulers, as they are part of the repertoire of so-called motetti missales, to which other composers such as Loyset Compère and Gaspar van Weerbeke contributed. Such motet cycles were designed to replace the standard items of the Mass (Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, etc). Josquin’s four-voice Mente tota starts with motivic imitation between the voices; from ‘ideo ne despicias’ onwards the contrapuntal texture makes room for homophonic declamation, which guarantees a clear comprehension of the text. The alternation of duets for high and low voices with tutti passages not only creates variety, but also highlights the structure of the prayer.

Willaert’s Missa Mente tota only survives in manuscripts, which are currently preserved in Rome, Bologna, Treviso and Munich. The earliest of these sources—Vatican City, Cappella Sistina 16—dates from circa 1512 to 1517, which means that this Mass could be one of the composer’s earliest pieces. Willaert might have written it during his stay in Rome (c1514–1515), when he was in the service of Cardinal Ippolito I d’Este. The Vatican choirbook also contains a five-voice Mass by Antoine Févin based on the same model. Willaert’s composition displays a remarkable feature: every section of the Mass contains a double canon, which shows Willaert’s love for complex contrapuntal constructions even at this early age. The Benedictus and second Agnus Dei are for two voices; the Osanna and third Agnus Dei are written in tempus perfectum, thus creating a climactic effect. Zarlino briefly mentions Willaert’s Missa Mente tota in Book III, Chapter 66 of his Istitutioni harmoniche and praises the work for its ‘leggiadria’ (gracefulness).

from notes by Katelijne Schiltz © 2010

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